The Day You Got Your Blue Belt

Talking with some jiu-jitsu guys who had been around the mats a long time I asked the question: “Which belt promotion meant the most to you?”

There were different answers but my own answer was the day I got my blue belt. Bear in mind that this was very early in the existence of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in North America and a blue belt was considered a bit of a big deal! A purple belt was nearing God like status.

I had struggled mightily with a spinal injury from judo in my first two years of training BJJ, sometimes having to sit out weeks due to severe pain. But stripe by stripe, I was eventually a full “zebra” with 4 stripes on my white belt.

The head instructor ran a tough, competition-oriented academy and demanded high standards from the students. Belts and stripes were difficult to come by. All of the academy would train extra hard before a tournament and then following the tournament some promotions would be given.

I was nervous that day at the academy and fairly beat up from the previous month of training for the tournament. I had not competed, but I sweated and rolled with the team and we pushed each other to our highest level.

One by one the stripes were called out until the very last standing in line was me. I was fearful that I just wasn’t ready and it would be another five to six months before I could finally boast some color around my waist. With a flourish, my head instructor pulled a brand new Atama blue belt that was concealed in his gi top and said “..and to the first T (my nickname) blue belt….” and he motioned to ME!!

It was an unreal moment. I had worked so hard and struggled to overcome injuries and here I was a blue belt! I still have the photograph of my baby face grinning from ear to ear. I list that blue belt among my proudest accomplishments.

I will confess to the Jiu-jitsu Times readers here that I did indeed sleep with my new blue belt that night.

To those who are close to graduating to that blue belt, enjoy the period of anticipation before the belt. It is a great accomplishment after surviving your first difficult introduction to the arte suave. Things will be a little different when you are a blue belt. Those striped up white belts will be gunning for you! They wonder if they are ready for their own blue belt and in their minds, if they can tap you, that is proof of their legitimacy!

Oh, and when you go to Starbucks, don’t forget to ask for the secret blue belt discount on your cappuccino 😉

Read also : What Do Most Students Dislike About BJJ Class?


  1. it took me 7 years to earn my Black Belt in Karate , that day was great, but I can honestly say that earning my Blue Belt in BJJ means more to me than my black Belt in Karate there is something truly special about a Blue Belt Promotion, I can assure you it’s earned not bought , 52 years old love training currently 3 stripe Blue Belt @ ‘Monster BJJ ?

  2. Same for me though I only got my blue a few months ago. Had been training for almost 3 years, year and half to get to 4 stripes and then sat on 4 stripes for over a year. Had just competed in my third competition at white belt and finally won my first gold medal which was in Nogi at Queensland State Championship here in Australia. Took awhile but when I finally got it I had no doubt I was ready for it at that point. Cried like a baby when I got home after promotions that night lol.


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